Power to the People

Paul Kane.  Copyright 2008.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

All power to the people.  A nation founded on the principle of the people and for the people must never forget to whom the final power in the nation belongs.

Justice William Douglas in a dissenting opinion in Branzburg

Two principles which follow from this understanding of the First Amendment are at stake here. One is that the people, the ultimate governors, must have absolute freedom of, and therefore privacy of, their individual opinions and beliefs regardless of how suspect or strange they may appear to others.  Ancillary to that principle is the conclusion that an individual must also have absolute privacy over whatever information he may generate in the course of testing his opinions and beliefs.

The people who govern are often far removed from the cabals that threaten the regime; the people are often remote from the sources of truth even though they live in the city where the forces that would undermine society operate. The function of the press is to explore and investigate events, inform the people what is going on, and to expose the harmful as well as the good influences at work. There is no higher function performed under our constitutional regime. Its performance means that the press is often engaged in projects that bring anxiety or even fear to the bureaucracies, departments, or officials of government. The whole weight of government is therefore often brought to bear against a paper or a reporter.

As the years pass the power of government becomes more and more pervasive. It is a power to suffocate both people and causes. Those in power, whatever their politics, want only to perpetuate it. Now that the fences of the law and the tradition that has protected the press are broken down, the people are the victims. The First Amendment, as I read it, was designed precisely to prevent that tragedy.

The ruling applied in its specifics to the case of a reporter who chose not to share his knowledge with the courts on the basis of journalistic privilege.  The court ruled against journalists in general and left them with two choices–share their information or proceed to jail.  The ruling extends these days to most of public discourse.

The ongoing limitation of the First Amendment and its guarantees of free speech continue to this day.  Every person speaking out in the public realm is in danger these days of arrest or harassment by an administration bent on keeping power to itself.  “Free Speech” zones are arranged in a manner that keeps the President from seeing any measure of protest.  T-shirts and signs opposing the government are banned in may public places these days.

Our freedoms are being eroded day by day as out politicians fall prey to the temptations generated by power.  The people of this nation are awakening slowly to the facts.  Like the figure in the drawing, We the People are all powerful if we stand united in response to the ills visited upon us by our government.  Politicians hold their elected seats at our discretion.  They are merely seat warmers holding power at the discretion of the people.

Today we must work harder than ever to restore our nation and to take back our Constitutional rights.  Together, We the People, can stop the runaway train that is the Bush administration.  We will in the end win out if we stand for what is right.  The battle will not be easy nor will it be short but the importance of staying the course and fighting for a return to a nation of liberty and justice for all is too important to veer away.

MSNBC Debate; Clinton, Edwards, Obama. Theatre of the Absurd.

MSNBC Democratic Debate in Las Vegas Jan. 15, 2008 Pt. 7

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The night was young, and yet, the messages were old.  The top-tier Democratic hopefuls huddled together around a round table.  The stage was prepared and the performance would be unparalleled.  Each character in this play reveled in an accepted reality.  Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama, are “right” for the country.  No one else could compare to this cast of characters.  In truth, the three were one.  The dramatic debate was cordial and quaint.  The candidates were polite, prim, and extremely proper.  The production was well-managed.  No one was scolded.  Regrets were expressed.  Geniality grew as the hopefuls promised to do no harm to the others.  

It was easy to be calm.  The setting was comfortable.  Candidates were able to comfortably sit in chairs.  The dialogue was intended to seem spontaneous.  There was no rehearsal, supposedly.  As the Presidential aspirants interacted amicably, spoke, the audience wondered; would they join hands and hum kumbaya.

The only possible opposition to the message of unified-status-quo was strategically eliminated from the panel.  Corps and the Courts barred the only voice-of-change from what MSNBC billed as a Democratic Candidate Debate.  General Electric owned and operated, MSNBC refused to allow Presidential aspirant Dennis Kucinich to participate in this televised assemblage.  Apparently, according to Donald Campbell, a Las Vegas lawyer who represented NBC Universal, “The Federal Communication Commission [FCC] broadcast rules do not apply to cable TV networks.”

Given this statement, unexpectedly, Americans have an answer to what has long been a source of confusion.  The cable news channels need not broadcast in the interest of the people.  An audience, the source for sales, is captive.  For producers, favoritism is fine.  Viewers, who have long claimed the candidate they will cast a ballot for, are absent from the air, now, we know why.  Only those, the writers considered crucial were part of the plot.  Extras, or unelectables, as defined by the network Directors, need not apply.

Attorney Donald Campbell proclaimed, to force MSNBC to include the people’s entrant, Dennis Kucinich, or not air the debate if the Congressman from Ohio did not appear, would amount to “prior restraint.”  Legal legend, Campbell declared to allow Presidential aspirant Kucinich to take the stage would be a tantamount to a “clear and unequivocal” violation of the First Amendment. Campbell pleaded with the Justices, and requested they consider the right to a free press.  The Nevada Supreme Court Jurors conferred and concluded Campbell was correct.  

Individual liberties, and the ‘public’s right to know’ may be legally abridged if cable corporate Chief Executives needs are involved.  in 2008, exceptions and exclusions dominate the Democratic debates as does obfuscation.

Americans might have heard in the past, on the few occasions when they were afforded an opportunity, Congressman Kucinich is committed to bring the all the troops home from Iraq months after he enters the Oval Office.  Not only will President Kucinich establish a policy of truth and reconciliation, Commander-In-chief Kucinich will lead with a refined resolution.

The US announces it will end the occupation, close military bases and withdraw.  The insurgency has been fueled by the occupation and the prospect of a long-term presence as indicated by the building of permanent bases.  A US declaration of an intention to withdraw troops and close bases will help dampen the insurgency which has been inspired to resist colonization and fight invaders and those who have supported US policy.  Furthermore this will provide an opening where parties within Iraq and in the region can set the stage for negotiations towards peaceful settlement.

Our future President Dennis Kucinich, believes we must recognize the plight of the people of Iraq.  Americans cannot ignore the truth; we went to war on false premises.  This fact alone affects the battle.  For too long citizens of this “free” democratic homeland deny the realities on the ground.  Circumstances ensure there is no hope of a military resolution.  As occupiers, we provoke more discord than bring peace.  A President Kucinich avows the United States must own its responsibility, and accept our actions caused the chaos.  A diplomatic process, adherence to international law will achieve stability in Iraq.  When Americans work towards a reverent resolution in Iraq, our troops will be able to return home with dignity.

This philosophy and plan contrasts with the Three-Are-One Plan.  What Americans heard was, as Fact Check characterized it, “Iraqi Theatre,” absurd, and lackluster.  Nonetheless, this, we are told is want Americans want, regardless of the polls that state the general public wants out of this futile war.

Once again, the candidates all made sweeping claims about their plans to withdraw troops from Iraq.  Obama and Edwards promised to “get our troops out” by the end of 2009, while Clinton promised to begin withdrawing troops within 60 days and promised to have “nearly all the troops out” by the end of 2009.  But under questioning, all three conceded that troops could be in Iraq for years:

Obama: I will end the war as we understand it in combat missions.  But that we are going to have to protect our embassy.  We’re going to have to protect our civilians.  We’re engaged in humanitarian activity there.  We are going to have to have some presence that allows us to strike if al Qaeda is creating bases inside of Iraq.

Clinton: Well, I think that what Barack is what John and I also meant at that same time, because, obviously, we have to be responsible, we have to protect our embassy, we do need to make sure that, you know, our strategic interests are taken care of.

Edwards: I just want to say, it is dishonest to suggest that you’re not going to have troops there to protect the embassy.  That’s just not the truth.  It may be great political theater and political rhetoric, but it’s not the truth.

As far as we can tell, there isn’t much daylight between the Iraq policies of Clinton, Edwards and Obama.  The biggest difference we noticed: Edwards would station some combat troops in Kuwait and bring them into Iraq whenever they were needed to counter terrorist activity.  Clinton and Obama would keep about the same number of troops for precisely the same mission, but they would station those troops in Iraq.  We leave it to our readers to determine how significant that difference is.

There is a distinction between combat troops and embassy guards.  But the candidates drew this distinction only when pressed.  The fact is all of them would have Americans in uniform stationed in Iraq indefinitely, and all of them leave open the possibility that U.S. combat troops will be fighting limited engagements in Iraq for years, whether they are stationed in Iraq or Kuwait.  That leaves us agreeing with Edwards: There was definitely some political theater going on.

After this performance, the actors did not stand; nor did they take their bows.  These artistes are professional entertainers.  Clinton, Edwards, and Obama need no props.  They can deliver a monologue without a script.  These three are truly practiced.  They know their craft.

Cater to the corporate sponsors.  Cackle in a charming manner.  Be charismatic.  Present a commanding presence.  Remember, the public likes it when you are cute.  Cry, if you must, but be cautious.  True emotions can distract or create distance between you and the audience.  Strut your stuff, but whatever you do, do not subscribe to the “extreme” positions, mainstream candidate Congressman Kucinich does.  

“Exit Iraq?”  That idea is preposterous.  There is money to be had from war.  The truer Weapon of Mass Destruction is Dennis Kucinich.

Speaking of arsenals, MSNBC Correspondents, and employees of parent company General Electric turn to the topic of guns.  The Presidential players sing the song conventionally Conservative, Constitutional constructionist wish to hear.  Guns?  Grab me by the barrel and I am yours.

Russert: We arrived in Nevada, the headline in Nevada Appeal newspaper: Nevada leads in gun deaths.

Russert: The leading cause for death among young black men is guns — death, homicide.  Mayor Bloomberg of New York, you all know him, he and 250 mayors have started the campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Senator Clinton, when you ran for the Senate in 2000, you said that everyone who wishes to purchase a gun should have a license, and that every handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry.  Will you try to implement such a plan?

Clinton: Well, I am against illegal guns, and illegal guns are the cause of so much death and injury in our country.  I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people.

The law in New York was as you state, and the law in New York has worked to a great extent.

Clinton: I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems.

So here’s what I would do.  We need to have a registry that really works with good information about people who are felons, people who have been committed to mental institutions like the man in Virginia Tech who caused so much death and havoc.  We need to make sure that that information is in a timely manner, both collected and presented.

We do need to crack down on illegal gun dealers.  This is something that I would like to see more of.

And we need to enforce the laws that we have on the books.  I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban.  We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again.  We stopped it for awhile.  Now they’re back on the streets.

So there are steps we need to take that we should do together.  You know, I believe in the Second Amendment.  People have a right to bear arms.  But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this.

Russert: But you’ve backed off a national licensing registration plan?

Clinton: Yes.

Ahhh, the audience applauds.  We witness one of those moments of regret.  A subdued Clinton, in character shows her inner strength.  She is strong enough to admit she was [once] wrong, or at least, did not act in accordance with what the producers or the public relations persons say the people prefer.  The moderator, the narrator, or the demigod for political dialogue then turns his attention to another in the cast.

Russert: Senator Obama, when you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners.  Would you do that as president?

Obama: I don’t think that we can get that done.  But what I do think we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement.  One good example — this is consistently blocked — the efforts by law enforcement to obtain the information required to trace back guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers.

That’s not something that the NRA has allowed to get through Congress.  And, as president, I intend to make it happen.

But here’s the broader context that I think is important for us to remember.  We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this country.  You’ve got the tradition of lawful gun ownership, that all of us saw, as we travel around rural parts of the country.

And it is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot.

And then you’ve got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago.

We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets.

We began this performance with the notion of Amendments.  It seems apt that we return to the discussion of Rights.  On stage, the actors address issues of public interest, while they work to avoid any offer of information in the interest of the common good.  

Russert: Senator Edwards, Democrats used to be out front for registration and licensing of guns.  It now appears that there’s a recognition that it’s hard to win a national election with that position.  Is that fair?

Edwards: I think that’s fair, but I haven’t changed my position on this.  I’m against it.  Having grown up where I did in the rural South, everyone around me had guns, everyone hunted.  And I think it is enormously important to protect people’s Second Amendment rights.

I don’t believe that means you need an AK-47 to hunt.  And I think the assault weapons ban, which Hillary spoke about just a minute ago, as president of the United States, I’ll do everything in my power to reinstate it.  But I do think we need a president who understands the sportsmen, hunters who use their guns for lawful purposes have a right to have their Second Amendment rights looked after.

Might we again ask of Rights, the Bill of Rights, Constitutional Amendments, and how the Courts apply these to weapons-maker General Electric, the owner, and operator of Microsoft-NBC.  Could we consider the courts determination and how the same rules affect the outcome as it relates to citizen, Congressman, and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.  The words freedom and justice for all come to mind.  In a country where all men are created equal, perchance, the interest of Corporate Chiefs supersedes those of the common folk.

Were we to review Act I, Scenes II, II, or IV we would see how similar the cast of characters are on issues such as Energy, Health Care, Immigration and more.  However, this Playbill is just as the Producers prefer, concise.  After all, conventional wisdom, which is all the network wishes to present, is American audiences have short attention spans.  This too, maybe by design.

As the public reviews the reality of the program, they need not know that General Electric offers a panoply of products and services all affected by the President of the United Sates and his or her Administration.  Personal interests, and certainly, not public needs, may have prompted the parent company of MSNBC to do as they did.  This conglomerate produces or provides engines for planes, petroleum, energy, and entertainment.  Health Care, Business, and Consumer Credit are integral parts of the General Electric portfolio.  This major Producer/Director does much more than light the auditorium, or offer well choreographed “enlightenment.”

Perchance, critics might pose the better question.  Why are Americans willing to accept theatre of the absurd?  Citizens tune in and channel the “advisable” perceptions.  The “majority” of people consider Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards as separate candidates, the super stars, amongst the dramatis personae.  Audience members focus on placement and how a Presidential hopeful moves across the stage.  Intonations inspire.  Cadence counts.  Most Americans ignore that there is little variance in the actors’ script.  Personalities may not be identical.  However, essentially, the three are one.  

As Americans look at the Presidential aspirants declared viable, we laugh, we clap, we cheer, and we jeer.  Once we choose the candidate-of-change, and place that person in the Oval Office, might we realize as we could have during this “debate,” there is little difference?  Will citizens ask for a refund?  This premiere performance might help us to understand, the price of this ticket may be far too costly.

MSNBC Democratic Debate in Las Vegas Jan. 15, 2008 Pt. 11

Scenes, Sources, The Stage . . .

Democratic National Committee Dictates Law; Denies Kucinich Constitutional Rights

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert>

I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!

~ Will Rogers [1879-1935]

Those were the days, now long past.  When Author, Philosopher, Philanthropist Will Rogers was alive, people had the freedom to think  for themselves.  Citizens were not told they must follow the lead of autocrats.  Less than one hundred years ago, the United States Constitution was considered the supreme law of the land.  In the twenty-first century, the Democratic National Committee sets the standards.  Party officials determined that law abiding Congressman, and Presidential hopeful, Dennis Kucinich will not appear on the Texas primary ballot.

The parchment pronouncement that once guided our nation was adopted on September 17, 1787.  The framers accepted the principles outlined on behalf of the “People.”  Later, each state ratified the text in order to affirm these laws acceptable to all citizens of this new country.  Indeed, according to the terms laid down in the Constitution, in a democratic nation, the common folk have a right to choose what decrees will govern them.  The populace decides how laws will be implemented.  The general public also selects who will enforce the edicts.  

Although the United States Constitution was sanctioned, long before the birth of esteemed and Syndicated Columnist Will Rogers, reverence for the document remained throughout Rogers’ life.  Today the eleventh commandment governs the people.  A person of a particular political persuasion shall not criticize or condemn another individual within the alliance.  The penalties for any violation are strict.  A lawful declared Presidential candidate can be removed from a state ballot if he decides to stand in support of a peaceful philosophy.

On January 3, 2008, Congressman, and Presidential aspirant, Dennis Kucinich Filed a Lawsuit With U.S. District Court.  The man intimately familiar with the United States Constitution, with the support of the law would not agree to endorse the Democratic nominee whomever that shall be.  

Dennis Kucinich believed as the Constitution states, he has the right to support the candidate of his choice.  

As Americans, we cannot be required to vote in accordance with a Party decree.  Yet, under the National Democratic Committee diktat any aspirant who does not sign a statement, which commits them to forego their right to freedom and choice will not be placed on the state ballot.  In this situation, even officials within a given region do not have the authority to override the Party statute.

Kucinich Files Lawsuit With U.S. District Court

January 3, 2008

Thursday, Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich found out he’s off the Texas ballot.  That’s because the Texas Democratic Party said his application was “defective.”

There was a hearing in federal court about this controversy around 11 a.m. Thursday.

On the application, candidates must sign an oath that requires them to support the Democratic nominee, whoever that shall be.

Kucinich crossed out that section.  The Texas Democratic Party said it contacted the Kucinich campaign, and they told them he would sign it on the condition that the nominee pledge not use war as part of foreign relations.

It turns out the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party does not have the authority to allow such a change, because the Democratic Executive Committee and the Democratic National Committee approve the applications.

Since Kucinich did not resubmit his application by the deadline, he has been taken off of the Texas primary ballot.  It doesn’t end there.

Kucinich, along with his faithful supporter Willie Nelson, have filed a civil lawsuit with the U.S. District Court, requesting a temporary restraining order, charging that such a “blind loyalty oath” is a violation of the 1st and 14th amendment.

The outline of principles by which America is governed, has been amended twenty-seven times.  None of those modification allowed for the possibility that if one Party or another assumed an autocratic posture, all the individuals within that delegation must do as the leaders dictate.  Yet, more than a century later, despotic rule is the law of the land.  Apparently, we are told there is just cause for such a change.  Dictums are designed with reason.

The chairman of the Texas Democratic Party said the oath is there for a reason.

“I think it’s important for party unity.  I think it’s important for association of people of like minds, so that we don’t have a situation where you’ve got someone who says, ‘Well, I’m going to take advantage of running under your banner,'” said Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie.

There was a time when to be a Democrat was to be free to think for one self.  Unity existed within the Party; people shared common principles.  The façade of agreement does not advance harmony.  Divisions cannot be eliminated by demand.  Yet, the Democrats, who no longer support the doctrine of freedom and justice for all, defensively declare despotic rule works well.  They do not tell us for whom.

While Freedom of Speech, the First Amendment of the constitution, in the Bill of Rights provides and protects our right to express our opinions, the Democratic National Committee does not recognize this canon.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On the other hand, perhaps they do.  Perchance, Democratic leaders proclaim, they are not Congress.  Thus, they can restrict the right to free speech.  The Party of the people apparently believes they are privileged, above the law.  The Progressive powerbrokers who call tell us they protect our rights, deny us what the Constitution provides.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . .

Again, we can only conclude that what the Constitutions affords our citizens, does not apply when Party politics are involved.  Presidential aspirants, who threaten the corporate culture and the candidates the elite sponsor cannot be given a chance, regardless of  conformity with reasonable writs.

Except for Kucinich’s refusal to sign the oath, his application is in compliance with the state’s party requirements.

When an individual lives within a totalitarian territory, such as the Democratic Party, any offense might be punishable by omission.  If the Democratic National Committee believes they have the “right” to deny the citizenry their vote, what else might they think true.  Watch your words, your p’s, and q’s.  Argue against the rulers and you may find yourself diminished and denied a choice, a Dennis Kucinich Presidency.

Sores and Sources . . .

Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied; We May Not Know Why

I read the headline; Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied and then perused on.  After my probe, I can offer no authentic assessment.  I, as do we all, only have my impressions, biased as they may be. 

As I read the title of this article, I was appalled.  Might First amendment Rights be threatened beyond what I imagined.  I recognize much has changed since September 11, 2001.  As the Twin Towers fell so did our right to Privacy.  The Patriot Act has defined each of us as potential or possible terrorist.  Telephones are legally tapped without warrants and people are herded through airports, scanned as they go. 

In the name of Protection, the President has invoked Executive Privilege and Americans have lost theirs.  We remove shoes and stroll barefoot through metal detectors.  Liquids are confiscated, and do not dare say the word bomb, be it in an airport, a library, or a school.  Even mention of the war might cause chaos.

However, as I read on, my mind was filled with memories.  Teachers, Preachers, Accountants, and Property Assessors, all demonstrate questionable performance in their chosen profession.  Managers and subordinates alike can be cruel, calculating, conniving, and competent.  An individual worker can be wondrous as a person and less than profound in their career.

Perchance, the Monroe County, Indiana School District had numerous concerns in regards to Deborah A. Mayer and her performance.  Possibly, her discussion of the Iraq War did not prompt her dismissal.  There seems to be much to consider.  The Supreme Court chose not to hear the case; therefore, we might never know what the District, the parents, the Principal and all others involved might have said or done. 

Actually, even when information is shared, we must be sensitive to interpretations.  Our own history shades our truth.  Nevertheless, Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied.

For details, please see the submission below.  The details are scant.  Still, the subject stimulates much thought and perchance discussion.

Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied
By Mark Walsh
October 5, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear the appeal of a former Indiana teacher who alleged that she lost her job because she had discussed the Iraq war in her classroom.

The appeal was one of hundreds turned down by the justices on Oct. 1, the first day of their new term.

The case was notable because it led to a fairly broad ruling by a federal appeals court that teachers have virtually no First Amendment protection for statements made in the classroom, even on a topic of such public importance as the war.

Deborah A. Mayer was a first-year teacher in the 11,000-student Monroe County, Ind., school district in January 2003 when she used an edition of TIME for Kids in a current-events discussion about the then-impending war.

According to court papers, the magazine reported on a peace march in Washington to protest the prospect of a U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Ms. Mayer was asked by a student in her multiage classroom of 3rd through 6th graders if she would ever participate in such a peace demonstration.  She told them that when she had driven by recent peace marches in Bloomington, Ind., related to the Iraq situation, she had honked her horn in response to a sign that said, “Honk for Peace.”

“And then I went on to say that I thought it was important for people to seek out peaceful solutions to problems before going to war, and that we train kids to be mediators on the playground so that they can seek out peaceful solutions to their own problems,” Ms. Mayer said in a deposition in the case.

I understand and have no problems with this posture.  As an educator, I often shared my personal views, each time with a qualifier, “I am extremely biased.  My opinion is my own.”  I invite students to share their beliefs and impressions.  Indeed, some of the best and broadest conversations, instructive experiences were the result of calmly discussions.  Our differences helped pupil and professor to learn and grow. 

I often muse, if I know only what is within the limits of my own mind, I understand nothing at all.  As a mentor, I appreciate  . . .

“To teach is to learn twice.
  ~ Joseph Joubert [French Critic]

Some parents complained to the principal about the brief discussion, and the principal barred Ms. Mayer from discussing “peace” in her classroom, according to court papers.  The principal also canceled the school’s traditional “peace month.”

“We absolutely do not, as a school, promote any particular view on foreign policy related to the situation with Iraq,” Principal Victoria Rogers said in a memo to school personnel at the time.  “That is not our business.”

Parents question and that is good.  This can be expected and is as it must be.  Parents have concerns and must express these.  Moms and Dads are the primary instructors.  Nonetheless, I believe to bar talk of peace is far more serious than a violation of Free Speech.  If we as a nation to not  consider and verbally exchange our thoughts than we are ignorant by our own accord.  Do not discuss peace at a time of war, for me, promotes the combat.

Every individual says they long for domestic tranquility; our constitution affirms and avows this commitment; yet, if we act aggressively to quell all possibility of peace then what might we truly advocate.

The school district decided in April 2003 not to renew Ms. Mayer’s contract for the next school year.  The teacher alleged that it was because of her comments on Iraq, and she sued the district on First Amendment and related grounds.

On the surface, this dismissal seems reprehensible, without reason.  Indeed, it appears the Right to Free Speech was denied.  However, as I read on, I realized there was more to consider.  How might the teacher communicated in the classroom.  What might she have said separate from her sentiments as they pertain to war and peace.

A Captive Audience
A U.S. District Court judge in Indianapolis granted summary judgment last year to the school district.  In a Jan. 24 ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled unanimously for the district as well.

“The First Amendment does not entitle primary and secondary teachers, when conducting the education of captive audiences, to cover topics, or advocate viewpoints, that depart from the curriculum adopted by the school system,” the appeals court said. . . .

While an observer may surmise, students, seated quietly in a classroom, are a “captive audience,” in my experience, this cannot be true.  Even a teacher that commands her class to be still cannot close a mind.  A pupil, fearful of punishment may not orally challenge a teacher; however, in his or her mind, he or she argues when they disagree.

An academic in a room with an instructor open to dialogue, will share aloud each and every thought.  I actually invite and welcome disparate comments.  I think it is best for young minds to understand that my opinion is mine alone and need not be theirs.  Apparently, the Justices acknowledged such a possibility.

The justices had expressed some interest in the case.  When the school district initially declined to file an answer to the teacher’s appeal, the high court requested a response.  The district’s brief may have convinced the justices that the case would not be suitable for deciding the teacher-speech question.

According to the Monroe County district, some parents had complained about Ms. Mayer’s “demeanor, conduct towards students, and professional competency” even before the discussion of Iraq.  During the second semester, the principal had placed Ms. Mayer on an improvement plan, but the teacher’s “job performance progressively deteriorated,” the district said in its court papers.

“Ms. Mayer’s speech was not the motivating factor for the nonrenewal of her teaching contract,” the district said.

The justices declined without comment to hear the teacher’s appeal in Mayer v. Monroe County Community School Corp. (Case No. 06-1657).

Perchance there was much to consider, most of which remains hidden.  The casual comment cannot be made with certainty.  Circumstances are complex, as are the individuals involved.  I suspect there are numerous problems with this case on both sides.

For the District to forego “Peace Month” activities.  To forfeit all discussions of foreign policy, particularly as these relate to global harmony, this is a frightening paradox.  If there were grounds for dismissal separate from the classroom comment, why were these not highlighted consistently so as to leave no question.

I cannot answer any of these concerns.  I know too little.  With thanks to the Courts refusal to hear the case, I, we have access to less information.

I invite you to feel free to share your thoughts.  If you are an educator, might you empathize with the instructor or the implication.  As an employer, what might you surmise.  Parent, please ponder, and share your experience.  May we each contemplate, cogitate, and conclude.  Without sufficient evidence to the contrary, we must accept that our opinions are merely moot.

References . . .

  • Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied, By Mark Walsh.  Teacher Magazine. October 5, 2007
  • pdf Teacher’s Free Speech Case Denied, By Mark Walsh.  Education Week. October 11, 2007
  • Time For Kids. Spring 2003.